The Israel Ministry of Tourism has defined the resort city of Eilat and the hotels area of Ein Bokek-Hamei Zohar at the Dead Sea as ‘green tourism islands’. The coronavirus cabinet allowed the city of Eilat and the Dead Sea hotel complex to be declared as ‘special tourism area’.
Entry into the green tourist areas by domestic travellers will be conditional on the presentation of an up-to-date negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from the virus. The outline will allow the opening of hotels in these areas, while adhering to Ministry of Health guidelines and assuming that there is a continued low level of morbidity in the areas. At a later stage and gradually, businesses in these areas which serve hotel guests will also be allowed to re-open.
Discussions on the initiative, including the logistics of presenting negative COVID-19 tests, will be discussed further in the Knesset Legislative Committee scheduled to meet today. When agreement has been reached, the bill must pass a second and third reading in the Knesset plenum, which could be as early as next week. If there are no additional conditions, and morbidity rates remain low in these areas, the hotels are expected to re-open in Eilat and the Dead Sea immediately after the approval of the bill.
Orit Farkash-Hacohen, minister of tourism in Israel said: “The green tourism islands outline approved by the government is the result of a very complex dialogue with the Ministry of Health and a great effort to bring this before the government to get it moving. The outline gives an immediate response to thirty percent of the tourism industry, in special geographical areas of Israel – Eilat and the Dead Sea.”
As well as the gradual re-opening of Israel’s domestic tourism industry, the country is also opening up business travel to foreign nationals under specified conditions. Entry to Israel by foreign nationals has been prohibited since March 2020, however foreign business travellers from ‘green countries’ will now be able to submit a request to travel to Israel for business purposes, should their work for Israeli companies be vital to the economy.